back to article Malaysian astronauts told: Space is no bar to prayers

As Malaysia prepares to send its first astronaut to space, the country's space agency planners find themselves facing an unusual problem: when your religious observances are dictated in large part by the sun, how can you keep the faith while orbiting the Earth? The country has had Islamic scholars working on the problem for a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space prayers

    Does this issue strike anyone else as not just a little absurd?

    I mean in a time such as the present technological age, that when a person has the ability to go into space, he still has to concern himself with such ancient superstitious rites. Maybe absurd is a kind appraisal of such beliefs.

  2. Robert Grant Silver badge

    The ability to sit above a carefully controlled explosion in a vacuum-sealed pod... apparently not enough to convince them that God can't exist. An absurd line of argument indeed.

  3. Wajahat Khan


    yeah...and sunita williams running the Boston Marathon in space made complete sense to you probably didnt it?

  4. asdf


    Yes running a marathon is space is ridiculous but I guess being up there that long makes you like Jack Nicholson in The Shining (HERE'S JOHNNY!). At least she has an excuse and most importantly the belief system of her culture allowed a Renaissance and the truth to be attainable. Heres to being more than 500 years behind. Good luck catching up.

  5. k

    It is interesting how does one keep their faith

    It is an interesting dilemna, how does one follow their religious practices when they are no longer on Earth. I would be interested in the clerics answers to when one would actually pray, 5 times a day.

    Maybe it would based on their local home time? Or how about in the distant future when you are not born on Earth and have no home there either.

    I remember there was an sci-fi movie a few years ago called Pitch Black which had pilgrims going to New Mecca. Discussions and debates can be fun, even though it is trivial for now.

  6. Tim Bates

    What the?

    I'm confused by Robert Grant's logic... Why does sitting on a controlled explosion prove God can't exist? Surely it merely proves some scientist was clever enough to develop a way of burning fuels in a controlled manner.

    I did have a laugh at the article though... I can't help but think Muslims are just a bit crazy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thought provoking

    Interesting article. However I would have thought that the sunrise/sunset and prayer times could easily be solved by either choosing to use Kuala Lumpur time or the time at Mecca itself. Personally speaking, I would have thought the latter more acceptable since it's not Malay-centric.

    Nice to see that they're trying to work out an accomodation of religion and technology. This is something that Islam has a long tradition of doing, unlike Christianity - unfortunately (Intelligent Design being the latest stupid idea on that front).

    I've no qualms about them doing this, as long as there's not pushes for accomodation for cults posing as religions (a la Scientology).

  8. Gary

    Whilst agreeing that it all seems a little strange ...

    ... I think a little more respect towards other folks spiritual beliefs wouldn't go amiss.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absurdity is a relative term...

    Of course the practice of praying would seem absurd to an atheist outsider looking into any faith ("but dahllling! It is sooo ABSURD, no?"), but then it is the same from the inside looking out, as it were.

    Now being a muslim, if it was down to me (and I somehow found myself without advice from a scholar or decided not to follow it for some reason), I would base 5 prayers on a generic 24 hour cycle while I was up there, maintain a relative position to Mecca by retaining the position I assumed when I began the specific prayer I was on, and as for ablution? Water is not the only accepted resource to use to clean yourself. Dry ablution is possible with something like sand. The only problem would be, how do you ensure that you don't have sand all over the Zero-G place? I am sure that this last matter is already taken care of by the ISS.

    In the worst case, if I found it all unmanageable, I would make up for all missed prayers/fasts on return to Terra Firma. To the people who take the now-accepted line of saying stuff like "Muslims are crazy", "it is absurd" etc, all I can say is (a) what's it to you? and (b) I always found non-muslims a little crazy until I took the time to actually understand them.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems like...

    even I could come up with a few better rules (while being a christian):

    -they could eat when the sun isn't up, that means at least 7 times a day (it would mean following the text literally as is)

    -they should turn towards the Earth during prayers, it's a good guess because Mecca is down there somewhere and imho precise enough (if you go to mars, even turning exactly towards earth is hard)

    ps: The problem about the existence of God is that a human being who is part of the universe can't see outside. We are locked into these dimensions, even forced to constantly 'move' along one axis (time). Contrary to many belives you can't find God inside this universe, much less inside yourself because to be a creator one must be above (outside) the system. Actually it must be nice to see the entire universe and all past, present and future times in one piece as one static nth dimension object.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leave it up to <insert favourite deity here> ?

    Given that a presumably omnipotent God would be able to prevent said astronaut from reaching the ISS in a multitude of more-or-less spectacular ways, anyone who makes it that far would have to conclude that:

    - God doesn't exist,

    - God doesn't care, or

    - God doesn't mind.

    My money's on #1...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Respect for religious beliefs

    Why should we show any respect for other people's religious beliefs?

    Respect for them as fellow humans with all the rights inherent in that, yes, but there is no good reason to respect their faith.

    "That respect for religious belief as such compels one to respect a pseudo-religion such as Islam that promotes violence, institutionalizes chattel slavery, misogyny, and a host of other barbarities, and is founded on the sole word of a pedophile-voluptuary-oathbreaker-warlord -- To concede the legitimacy of religious belief is not the same as saying that a specific creed that calls itself a religion is worthy of respect! " - Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion"

  13. Robert Grant Silver badge

    To clarify:

    I don't think that believing in God and going into space is absurd. I was rephrasing the comment above mine to show that actually *that* is absurd.

  14. John Wilson

    North Pole?

    Does make me wonder how on earth a muslim is supposed to observe these practices on the North or South pole. Not eating while the sun is up in the summer would be a bit awkward.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just shut up and pray

    It is every Muslim's religious obligation to fast during the month of Ramadan and pray 5 times a day, the same way Christians are instructed to pray, Jews pray, Hindus pray etc. etc. The only difference is the method of prayer. Obviously there are times when it is difficult to pray or fast and this is accomodated and you could make up the fasts/prayer when you get back to Earth. I don't think that blasting a rocket into space somehow disproves there being a God and traditionally Islam and Science are very compatible however this isn't really a forum to slag off someones religious beliefs regardless of whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Atheist.

    As it says in the Holy Quran

    22:67 To every people have We appointed ceremonial rites (of prayer) which they observe; therefore, let them not wrangle over this matter with you, but bid them to turn to your Lord (since that is the main objective of religion). You indeed are rightly guided. But if they still dispute you in this matter, (then say,) `God best knows (the value of) what you do."

  16. David Cantrell


    So it took several scholars a year to come up with "just do the best you can old chap", and they haven't even picked who it's going to be yet - in fact he might not even be a Moslem. What a great use of their time!

  17. Arnold Lieberman

    It's cold up north

    This issue (sunrise/sunset times) also occurs on earth - in the arctic/antarctic regions. Presumably Muslims already have some sort of solution in this situation which can be easily adopted. Jews would use time as of their home or 6am/6pm (but as always there are more opinions on the subject than people in this situation).

  18. David Heffron

    Power of prayer

    Will there be any tests run to see if prayer is more effective in space given that's where all the Gods live?

  19. Gary


    Why should one show respect for someone else's beliefs ? Because it's basic politeness and tolerance for others. To feel a need to ask such a question amazes me. One can disagree and debate without ridicule.

  20. hokkyokusei

    ...and the rest.

    "So far, only two muslims have travelled to space:"

    Only if you don't include Syrian Muhammed Faris, Azerbaijani Musa Manarov (twice), or Afghan Abdul Ahad Mohmand.

  21. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    Respect for religion

    Interesting to see that Islam does adapt to science, instead of blocking it. I think it was until the 20th century that the Roman Catholic Church finally admitted that the world was round. Sheesh.

    Though I *didn't* know there as a Moslem majority in Malaysia...

  22. Chris Bradshaw

    Religion and tolerance

    Nice to see mostly tolerant posts. The problem is slightly funny from a non-Muslim perspective, but I am sure that the Malaysians will find a solution and I applaud their efforts to think 'outside of the box'

    And it is rude and untrue to say that the Muslim religion is 500 years behind. The Christian churches of 500 years ago were burning people at the stake for thinking 'out of the box' like this...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why can't they look up the amswer in the Koran?

    A Deity would have been able to anticipate the problem, surely?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The answer has already been provided...

    A person who is travelling has certain allowances made to them. IE, they are allowed to catch up with fasting and Prayers after their journey finishes.

    I think we all agree that to be in Space (and even a Space station) would constitute a journey thereby allowing any Prayers and Fasting to be offset to a time when the Astronaught returns to Earth.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021